The Ostrich and her Young

by W. H. G. Kingston

The ostrich, which, with its long strides and small wings, traverses the sandy deserts of Africa at a rapid rate, lifting its head on the look-out for danger, is generally spoken of as a stupid bird. Notwithstanding this character, it displays great affection for its young, and some sense in other matters. Sometimes a pair may be seen with a troop of twelve or more young ones, watching all their movements, and ready to call them away should a foe appear. Sometimes the young are not much larger than Guinea-fowls; and as their parents are aware that the little birds cannot run so fast as they themselves can, they endeavour, when an enemy comes near, to draw him away from their charges. The female generally undertakes this office, while the cock bird leads the brood in an opposite direction. Now the hen ostrich flies off before the horseman, spreading out or drooping her wings. Now she will throw herself on the ground before the foe, as if wounded, again to rise when he gets too near; and then, wheeling about, she tries to induce him to follow her. Thus she will proceed, trying similar devices, till she fancies that she has led her pursuer to a safe distance from the brood, when, abandoning her former tactics, she will dash off across the plain, fleet as the wind.